Send Me On My Way -Rusted Roots

Feb 22, 2013

I Am Now Mrs. Big Ben

Disclaimer: I am not Mrs. Big Ben. I just felt like misleading you.

Hoi! (Dutch for Hi)
     I hope everyone at home is surviving the snowpocalypse. If I was stuck inside for days, I'd be super bored. Hopefully reading this will soak up some boredom. Guess what guys! I went to London again this past weekend. And I didn't get lost too badly OR miss my buses  Excitement all around! This time was completely different from last time. Let me walk you through it.
Me and the Completely Harmless Paul
     The past couple of times I went to London, I have always had some sort of itinerary and was constantly rushing about like a madwoman. This time, I didn't make any plans and it was marvelous. I left Birmingham around 1:30 pm and arrived at 4:30 pm. A little chaos ensued, but I'd rather not recount all of that because it didn't have too much to do with me and I'd rather not beat a dead horse. Basically, I was an hour late meeting Paul, my host, but it ended up alright in the end. I met Paul on It's a website where people offer to let travelers stay with them for free and usually offer to show them around their hometown; in this case, London. PLEASE refrain from lecturing me about safety and how dangerous this is. It will only make me angry and resent you for it. Couchsurfing works with references and Paul had over a hundred and thirty; all positive. No. Stop. I know you still want to talk to me about it. Quit it. I won't listen. Anyway, I met him at Baron's Court station and when we got to his place, he made me a delicious dinner of something I don't know the name of. Paul is a really interesting guy. He is a flight attendant and travels all over the world meeting new people (many couchsurfers) and biking on his Brompton foldable bicycle everywhere he goes. I should've known this would be interesting!
My route.
     After dinner, he led me on a marvelous tour/bike ride along the Thames river. The river. At night. In London... It was beautiful. It was at this point that I really felt like I was living in a dream. We passed the Chelsea bridge, the Millennium bridge which was in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film at the beginning (the death eaters caused it to collapse), and the London bridge. Good news! It didn't fall down. On our way we passed Big Ben and I saw a fox. Yes. A fox. In the middle of London. I was about three feet away from it and it didn't even move away. The next morning, Paul took me on another five mile bike ride through Chinatown and the West End. We had lunch in Chinatown and it was pretty tasty. I think he said it was called Dim Sum or something like that. All I know is one of the dishes looked like mushrooms, but it had tentacles. Yum.
St. Peter's Cathedral
     Paul had to go to Toronto, so I left his place and met up with Kris, Ellen, Naomi, Luka, and Guillermo in Camden. I took full advantage of the WiFi and Skyped Mark Mannette and Blake. A few hours later, I dropped the other Erasmus off at the underground station and bid them adieu as they went back to Birmingham. I however, met up with another couch surfer named Victor. He was from Puerto Rico and had studied in New York, but was currently living in London. We went to dinner (Chinese again. I don't know what the fascination with Chinese food is about) and he was kind enough to pay for me. By then it was getting dark, so I went back to Paul's place and met up with his girlfriend Claudine who hosted me for the night since Paul was out of town. She was super nice as well and told me all about her family in Ireland she had just visited.
     This is a good point to mention my butt is STILL sore from the 15 miles on the bike.
Buckingham Palace

In the morning, I packed up all my things and headed out on my own. Claudine recommended the Victoria and Albert Museum, so I killed time there for a couple hours and Skyped Mom using their WiFi. It was pretty neat and there were a lot of sparkly things. Yeah. I just realized how ditsy that sounds... I was completely fascinated with the sparkly things. I even took videos. When I left the museum, I decided to walk to the palace and on the way I saw St. Peter's cathedral. On a whim and because I could, I went in and walked around. Very pretty of course. All the churches I have seen in Europe so far are gorgeous. The best part was that I could do whatever I wanted. All alone in London and not a care in the world. Best feeling ever. I walked by the palace and watched the guards for a bit and then decided I was hungry. I walked to the bus station and like the fat ass I am, I went into Sainsbury's and bought several pastries and then bought a latte from Costa Coffee and ate it all. I may be a pig, but I'm a happy one.
Westminster Abbey and My Giant Face
     By this point, I had two and a half hours to kill and no idea what to do, so like the good tourist I am, I went to information and asked what I could do in a couple hours. "What do you want to do?" he asked. "I don't really care. I just want to kill time," I said back. "Okay, go east and there's the Red Light District. Maybe you can make a few bucks while you wait," He says deadpan. "Oh. That's a good one. But... maybe not." I'm thinking Douche. After chuckling a little, "Well, it's a twenty minute walk to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey," said the dude at the desk. And off I go. Been there done that already, but I have nothing better to do and I gotta admit, it's still cool.
Big Benjamin and I
     So twenty minutes later, I'm walking by Westminster Abbey taking pictures of random people with their random cameras posing in front of the church. Bored. so I walk across the street to Big Ben. I got there right at 5 so I listened to the bell. Nice. Checked my iPhone. WHAT!? BIG BEN HAS WIFI?! Who'da thunk? Awesome. I took full advantage of this opportunity and Facetimed my aunt Sami. Nonchalantly placing Big Ben in the frame behind me. What's that? Oh nothing really. Just Big Ben. No big deal. Heh. Good times. I talked to her for a while and then I Facetimed CL and Justin. I was happy that they actually answered me this time! I showed them Big Ben as well and talked for a bit before they had to go to Chorale. Immediately after, Grandma CiCi called me and I attempted to explain how to make a Skype account. Hopeless. This took up most of my remaining time, so I started walking back to the bus station. On my way, I spotted another church (Westminster chapel) and went in thereby accidentally joining a church service. Oops. I stayed as long as I could and then left to go back to the bus station. That concludes my London trip.
     I also made a new friend I fondly named Sleeping Roll Guy because he was asleep on the underground and did a forward roll out of his seat when the train stopped. Cool guy.
Sleeping Roll Guy
     Wednesday was American night! I went obviously, but I didn't stay long because all that was going on was a beer pong tournament (many had never played before and it is viewed as a completely American thing) and people sitting around. Pretty boring if you ask me. I did get an American flag poster to put on my door, so it wasn't a total loss. Although... the stars on the flag are hilariously wrong. It was also Ellen's birthday! Woohoo!
     Thursday, I started Dutch lessons! Luka is my tutor and I am doing my best to not make a fool of myself. He taught us about culture as well as vocabulary. Note: If you are ever in the Netherlands, your fries (or chips as they say) will come completely smothered in a lake of mayonnaise. Just beware. Also, Ik hou van ja. ;) I can say that one because there is no phlegmy throat sound in it. I am having issues with that, but I am determined to learn at least a few sentences I can use when I go back to Amsterdam. Here is me speaking in Dutch and Chinese: . I think I'm really progressing. Haha.
     Today is Friday... Wait for it... It's Friday. Friday. Gotta get down on Fridayyy! >:)
     Not much going on today. We had a guest speaker in our Production Project lecture (English word for class). She was very helpful and I'm really starting to get excited about this play. It's called Ghost's of Bedlam by Arthur Aldrich and I am playing Rachel.
     I have nothing else to add except I burnt my bread today.
     Until next time!

Tot Ziens!
Russell x

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